When I was in my 20’s and started down the path of becoming a trainer and fitness competitor everything seemed so challenging. I was constantly playing the guessing game as I learned how to sculpt my physique. I was pounding the protein shakes, taking an insane amount of supplements and vitamins, eating nothing but broccoli and fish and feeling constant cravings and hungry all the time. I was dedicated and so passionate about getting in amazing shape, but it always felt like work. It truly was a full time job of working out and eating perfect.
I found a folder of all my magazine covers as I was cleaning out my closet and I couldn’t help but notice that my body isn’t that different at 43 then it was 25. (well, minus a few more freckles and my skin isn’t quite as youthful!)
The crazy thing is that I workout a few times a week vs a few times a DAY, I eat what I want, and never feel hungry or deprive myself of things like bread and chocolate.
So what if I knew then, what I know now! What would I have changed or coached my “25 year old self” to do.
I’ve learned so much over the course of 18 years. It’s never an overnight process, and I’m living proof that small changes add up over time.
Today I decided to share the top five lessons that I would love to go back in time and teach myself! If you haven’t already adapted these changes in your life, let me save you 18 years of trial and error!!!!
- I learned this one early, but it took a while to master! I switched to a very high protein diet, drank very little water, and ended up with a kidney stone. NOT FUN! Although the doctors never said that was the cause, there was no doubt in my mind that this massive change is what caused the kidney stone. I didn’t instantly become a good water drinker, but I slowly learned to love water and over the years have completely eliminated soda and other processed drinks. In fact the thought of it makes me cringe. I don’t miss them at all! I pretty much drink tea, kombucha, coffee, and tons of water with citrus or cucumber.
Lesson learned- staying hydrated is essential for your body to function properly. It’s the leading force behind your energy, your mood, and ultimately your fat loss.
- Stop counting calories. Calories count, but you DON’T need to count them. If you are eating the right foods, in the right portion sizes and at the right times of day, you will lose body fat.
I used to count every calorie and every gram. I would eat exactly 1250 calories. I ate so many “fake franken-foods” to avoid calories. Now I focus on nutrients. I don’t put anything in my body that is void of nutrients. Food is fuel and if you give your body a chance, it will fall in love and crave nutrient dense foods. This won’t happen over night as you are going to be battling some amazing chemist that make the “franken-food” you are eating. They make this “food” so your brain thinks it wants more. What your body is really looking for is the nutrients it needs to let go of all the junk it’s storing in search of nutrients.
Lesson learned: Don’t count calories. Eat proper porting sizes, skip the franken foods and go for nutrient dense foods in their natural state.
- Balance your blood sugar. I used to crave sweets so badly and would eat so many fake sweeteners in attempt to calm the cravings. I would put splenda on EVERY THING. I now use and love stevia and monk fruit sweeteners and am so happy that they are well known and popular now, my advice to my younger self would be to balance my blood sugars to avoid the cravings. Keeping your blood sugar from the rollercoaster effect is the best way to avoid the sweet tooth. Most of the time when you are craving sugar it’s because your body is looking for a quick source of energy. Stay hydrated, eat frequently, and eat balanced meals with healthy fat, carbs and protein to keep your blood sugar stable.
Did I mention that when you are on the blood sugar roller coaster it’s easy for your insulin to spike and that’s when your body is most prone to store fat? Another great reason to keep those blood sugar levels from spiking.Lesson learned: Eat frequent, balanced meals and snacks. Avoid chemical sweeteners.
- Eat fat! Yes, you heard me right, eat fat. In my 20’s I’d count every gram and aimed to get no more then 15 gm daily. It didn’t matter what the source was, fat was fat and in my mind it was all bad. I remember splitting my peanuts in half to make them last longer. I didn’t eat butter, avocados, egg yolks, only a few nuts, no oils (my salad dressing was splenda with a squeeze of lemon), and I cooked with a 2 sec spray of pam. Eating out was impossible and my “non fitness” friends rightfully thought I was nuts!
I now eat a lot of fat, even saturate fats. With that said, I eat only grassfed butter and meats, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts and seeds. I often add fat to my shakes and salads because it helps the nutrients absorb better, keeps me full longer, and keeps my skin looking healthy.
Lesson learned: Fat is not the enemy. Man-made processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats are the bad guys.
- Listen to your body. When you learn to listen to your body it will tell you what it needs. I remember wanting to eat and entire jar of peanut butter or a whole box of cereal. My body needed fat and carbs!
Lesson Learned: You’re body is incredibly smart and your cravings mean something. Don’t ignore them, investigate what they mean and fix it!